It was looking like Howard Dean was going to cruise to the Democrat nomination for President in 2004. He had a lot of money in the bank, supporters out the wazoo, and favorable press.
That is, until he came to Iowa right before the caucuses.
One older gentleman, one question, and one video camera, and before you could say "YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" Howard Dean was caught on camera losing his temper and yelling at an old man. And the dreams of Howard Dean and his supporters went the way of "Gigli II."
Now, Hillary Clinton has been involved in a situation that is not unlike the "Dean Moment" described above. Hillary was at an event and took a question from an older gentleman inquring about her vote that, to him, sounded like she gave President Bush the power to attack Iran. After an explanation, Hillary had what could be seen as her "Dean Moment" when she suggested the man might have been a plant or just reading a question someone else had written, as, according to Hillary, she had been asked that same question over the past couple of days.
Regardless of whether he was a plant, Hillary was not at her best in handling the situation. After her initial reaction, she was apologetic, but the damage, such as it was, had already been done. Sean Hannity said it was a "meltdown" and the Hillary camp has tried to downplay it as nothing major, but I'm not convinced either one is right. Hillary didn't go off like Dean, but she didn't exactly keep her cool, either. The truth of the situation is probably somewhere in between.
So, Hillary won't see her campaign support dwindle too much after this, but it's not a good sign for someone who is supposed to be politically savvy as people say Hillary is. A situation like this, like her odd laugh with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, can come back to haunt her. Will it? I don't think so. The only one who could really make hay out of it would be Barack Obama, and he's not desperate enough yet to pull something like this. John Edwards? He's jockeying for a possible spot as Hillary's VP. And the others lack the star power to generate the heat necessary to make it anything more than a blip on the screen.
In short, Hillary dodged a bullet, but she can't keep making dumb mistakes like this or like what her campaign spokesman Terry McAuliffe did when he told two Obama supporters Hillary has Iowa "in the bag." They would do well to remember Howard Dean's fateful trip to Iowa in 2004 and seek to avoid any more "Dean Moments."